Is there only one source of motivation for consumers to save energy?

I wrote in this blog in the month of May 2015 that following its consumption is not enough to engage a citizen in saving energy. Transforming a passive citizen, not knowing what decision to make when facing an unexpected overconsumption, into a committed citizen, active or pro- active, is not a simple process: many pilots have confirmed it.

To find the levers of motivation or stimulation of a citizen to take actions is a key step without which there is no possible result.

Several drivers have been studied and, among them, some give encouraging results:

  • The “gamification” is to transform energy savings in a game combining the notions of pleasure and reward.
  • The social comparison wakes up the competition spirit and the need for social conformity. A consumer who is sensitive to this lever will be proud to be leading the pack or upset / shame not to fill this position.
  • The economic incentive allows a consumer to find a “return” to his actions
  • Activation of values will reach a protector of the environment
  • The “labelling” will make public and visible to all, the result achieved by a consumer. It also helps to symbolize this performance, for example, by achieving a degree (platinum eco- consumer, gold, silver or bronze). This grade may or may not provide benefits as we remain in a logic of pure labelling or as we combine it with the other levers.

Given this fact, cities are trying to choose the best stimulation lever. There is no intrinsic better solution. This concept is individual and every consumer will be inherently more sensitive to some stimulation levers. With some cultural differences between countries, a given proportion of consumers is sensitive to each of the levers mentioned above.

The results of an energy efficiency program through behavioural change will be more important if it hits a larger number of consumers and therefore if a wide range of stimulation levers is offered. Indeed, it is this condition that will help to engage the greatest number of consumers.

The choice between these levers must be free and left to the consumer, because this freedom is a key commitment factor.

We are more comfortable with deterministic approaches and tend to impose on the consumer the process that seems the most relevant. This attitude is a limiting factor, that is common to the vast majority of initiatives.

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